Search

Hampstead journalist who exposed wrongdoing to stand trial over alleged £2.5million tax scam

17:15 19 February 2014

Chris Atkins at court. Picture: Ed Willcox/Central

Chris Atkins at court. Picture: Ed Willcox/Central

Archant

A journalist and film-maker who exposed wrongdoing in the tabloid press and gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry is to stand trial over an alleged £2.5million tax fraud plot.

Investigative journalist Chris Atkins, who made the 2009 documentary Starsuckers to reveal the “shams and deceit” involved in celebrity reporting, is accused of being involved in a complex five-year scam to cheat the taxman, along with 12 others, including seven investment bankers.

Atkins, 37, of South End Road, Hampstead, won critical acclaim for the film, which saw newspapers tricked into publishing false stories about stars, including the late Amy Winehouse, Pixie Geldof and Guy Ritchie.

He was shortlisted for a Bafta in 2007 for his earlier film Taking Liberties, about the erosion of civil liberties under Tony Blair’s government, and he also made a BBC Panorama programme investigating Comic Relief.

In 2011, he gave evidence to the Leveson Inquiry into press standards, during which a 30-minute excerpt from Starsuckers was played.

The court case comes after HMRC carried out investigations into the finances of movie industry firms.

The scheme supposedly enabled the investment bankers, three of whom are former employees of the state-owned Royal Bank of Scotland, to submit bogus tax returns to claim tax relief on losses 
between January 2007 and February 2012.

The alleged plot is said to relate to Starsuckers and several other films which were never made.

Atkins is facing a single count of conspiring to cheat the public revenue. Another Hampstead man, investment banker Hamish Maclellan, 41, of South Hill Park, faces the same charge.

The other defendants include one of the financial backers of Starsuckers, executive producer Terence Potter, of West Riverside, Manchester, who faces three counts of trying to cheat the public revenue.

The defendants were all given leave not to attend a hearing at Southwark Crown Court last Thursday, when it was heard that the trials may be split into three, starting in April 2015.

A team of forensic accountants have been enlisted to trawl through information relevant to the case.

Latest Hampstead & Highgate News Stories

Police are appealing for witnesses after the death of a woman who was hit by a coach in Camden.

A City boss from Hampstead likened to the ‘Wolf of Wall Street’ has been jailed for a year after sexually assaulting two women.

A pedestrian was hit by a car in South Grove in a road traffic collision this afternoon.

13:27

Welcome, hope and tolerance have been the three key messages for students learning about refugees.

Yesterday, 17:30

Camden Council has claimed a “major victory” after Airbnb announced today that it will limit entire home listings to 90 days a year in London.

Yesterday, 16:53

Haringey has the third-highest proportion of homeless residents in England, new figures have revealed.

Yesterday, 16:31

In the first of a series written from the Greek town of Thessaloniki, currently home to more than 20,000 refugees, a trainee journalist from Kentish Town writes about her life as a volunteer

Yesterday, 15:24

A pair of Barnet schools believe the future is bright after announcing a “strategic partnership” on Monday.

Newsletter Sign Up

Sign up to the following newsletters:

Most read Hampstead & Highgate news

HOT JOBS

Show Job Lists

Property Newsletter Sign-up

Get the latest North London property news and features straight to your inbox with our regular newsletter

I am also happy to receive other emails...
Fields marked with a * are mandatory
Email Marketing by e-shot

Digital Edition

cover

Enjoy the
Hampstead & Highgate Express
e-edition today

Subscribe

Education and Training

cover

Read the
Education and Training
e-edition today

Read Now